Deniliquin Pastoral Times

New reg­is­ter pe­ti­tion

- Society · New South Wales · Government of New South Wales · Deniliquin · Arbeidersparty · Parliament of New South Wales · Shooters Party · Melinda Pavey · National Party of Australia – NSW

A new on­line pe­ti­tion has been gen­er­ated ‘‘de­mand­ing the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment cre­ate a pub­lic reg­is­ter list­ing all own­ers of the state’s water en­ti­tle­ments’’.

Ru­ral ad­vo­cacy group Speak Up launched the on­line pe­ti­tion on Thurs­day.

It was writ­ten by group chair Shel­ley Scoullar, a for­mer De­niliquin rice farmer who left the ir­ri­ga­tion sec­tor amidst soar­ing water prices.

Pre­vi­ously, NSW Par­lia­ment only con­sid­ered writ­ten pe­ti­tions. But a re­cent pol­icy change means NSW Par­lia­ment is obliged to de­bate and vote on any elec­tronic pe­ti­tion gar­ner­ing more than 20,000 sig­na­tures.

The new pe­ti­tion is ex­pected to aid NSW Mem­ber for Mur­ray He­len Dal­ton when she rein­tro­duces her bill on the reg­is­ter this month.

Mrs Dal­ton and her Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party in­tro­duced a bill to Par­lia­ment call­ing for a pub­lic water reg­is­ter, and the NSW Gov­ern­ment coun­tered with a bill of their own.

Lo­cal stake­hold­ers ar­gue the Coali­tion bill would not pro­vide as much trans­parency at Mrs Dal­ton’s bill.

NSW Water Min­is­ter Melinda Pavey’s bill — the NSW Na­tion­als Water Trans­parency and Ac­count­abil­ity Bill — was voted down in the Up­per House af­ter fail­ing to get sup­port from Shoot­ers, Fish­ers & Farm­ers Party, Greens and La­bor Party mem­bers.

Mrs Dal­ton’s bill — the Water Man­age­ment Amend­ment (Trans­parency of Water Rights) Bill 2020 — passed the Up­per House, but was voted down in the Lower House.

‘‘In early Au­gust, the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment voted down my bill to force politi­cians to de­clare their water in­ter­ests; and to cre­ate an on­line water reg­is­ter,” Mrs Dal­ton said.

‘‘This means

for­eign

cor­po­ra­tions

can con­tinue to buy our water their own­er­ship se­cret.

‘‘If you’re ap­palled by this, you can now have your say.

‘‘This pe­ti­tion ad­dresses the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment’s main crit­i­cism of a pub­lic water reg­is­ter — that it vi­o­lates the pri­vacy of ‘mum-and-dad’ farm­ers.

‘‘It states that a pub­lic reg­is­ter should not re­veal pri­vate con­tact de­tails of farm­ers.’’

Mrs Dal­ton said her re­vised bill, which she in­tends to ta­ble in mid-Septem­ber, in­cludes an amend­ment to pro­tect pri­vacy.

‘‘I don’t re­ally think this amend­ment is nec­es­sary.

‘‘A pub­lic water reg­is­ter was never go­ing to in­clude phone num­bers and ad­dresses. You could ar­gue the White Pages vi­o­late pri­vacy more than a water reg­is­ter.

‘‘But if the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment is us­ing pri­vacy as their ex­cuse, this new clause ad­dresses this con­cern.

whilst keep­ing

‘‘Now, if they vote against the bill, we will know they are pro­tect­ing their donors and for­eign cor­po­rates.’’

Mrs Dal­ton said her amended bill also strength­ens dis­clo­sure re­quire­ments for ir­ri­ga­tion cor­po­ra­tions, like Mur­rumbidgee Ir­ri­ga­tion.

‘‘At present, it’s easy for for­eign com­pa­nies to hide their water en­ti­tle­ments in­side an ir­ri­ga­tion cor­po­ra­tion.

‘‘They won’t be able to do so passes.

‘‘If I have the weight of 20,000 pe­ti­tion sig­na­tures be­hind a pub­lic water reg­is­ter, it will be dif­fi­cult for the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment to re­sist it.’’

The pe­ti­tion can be found at https:/ /www.par­lia­ment.nsw.gov.au/la/Pages/ ePe­ti­tion-de­tails.aspx? q=u5As­bL26zf2m­npK/x5Swuw==.

if my

bill

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